Famished-looking horses, donkeys, and dogs prompted neighbors of the Remington Deaf Ranch to say “Oh, my!” and call the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators later seized 16 neglected animals, located in New River, according to a sheriff’s office press release. Officials are also looking into the welfare of three teens found working on the ranch. The teens may be from Ethiopia, the release said.
Officials suspected the boys were tasked with looking after the horses on the ranch, which claims to help drug- and alcohol-addicted youth — with a hand from Jesus Christ, of course. The Arizona Department of Child Safety is looking into the welfare of the boys, who seemed unharmed. It’s not known how they came to reside at the ranch, which is not licensed with the state.
“Protecting our most vulnerable people is our highest priority,” Sheriff Paul Penzone said in a press release. “Thanks to tips from the public, our detectives intervened to assist these young men and stop a horrible situation of animal neglect.”
After complaints last week, Sheriff’s Office detectives obtained a warrant on Monday to search the property, where they found thin horses with rib, hip, and tail bones protruding through their skin.
One paint mare and a miniature donkey with curled front hooves looked like they were having trouble walking.
They discovered black and gray dogs infested with ticks and showing symptoms of illness.
Dan Remington, listed as the ranch's owner, later turned over eight horses, five adult dogs, one puppy, one foal, and one miniature donkey.
Officials say there was a lack of food and water for all animals on the property.
Remington said he couldn’t afford a veterinarian to treat the animals, according to the release. He signed over ownership to the sheriff’s office.
The investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made.
When called for comment, a woman who answered the phone at the Remington Deaf Ranch office said she'd just heard the news herself and had no comment.
According to its website, the Remington Deaf Ranch has been operating since 2000 with the goal of helping deaf youths on drugs or alcohol — very specific. Those being treated at the ranch are “required to stay at the ranch for a full year” and will allegedly receive counseling, homeschooling, and hands-on work experiences.
The website states that "The Lord touched the Remington's [sic] hearts to help more troubled deaf teens." The Lord apparently didn't say anything about helping troubled animals.
The website also lists the "10 Cowboy Commandments" taught to deaf youth with addictions, which include:
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• "Watch yer mouth and yer sign language."
Despite the fact that cowboys are usually tasked with keeping livestock well-fed and alive, this, alas, is not one of the commandments.